Sarah Crooks Flaire Decorates Florida’s Holiday Tree

Jacksonville artist Sarah Crooks Flaire of evervess art studio was recently selected to make ornaments for the National Parks Service to display as part of my faceAmerica Celebrates: Ornaments from Across the USA. The display at President’s Park at the White House features holiday trees decorated with ornaments designed by local artists from each U.S. State and territory as well as the District of Columbia. The ornaments reflect National Parks Service parks and programs, and the artist has taken her inspiration from the Timucuan Ecological and Historical Preserve at the mouth of the St. Johns River.

We asked her a few questions about the project, and she was kind enough to answer them!

Why were you chosen to make the ornaments for the Florida holiday tree at the Pathway of Peace for the National Parks Service?

I am an environmental artist passision flowerand a certified Florida Master Naturalist, so
creating ornaments to celebrate the National Parks must have seemed like a natural fit. I make images and experiences that connect us to the natural world, while appealing to all ages, I express a deep sense of spiritual ecology
.

Can you please describe your process in physically making the
ornaments? How did you choose what materials to use?

The ornaments celebrate the flora and fauna of the estuary of the Timucuan Preserve and highlight the importance of oysters. I use recycled cd’s to represent a waterline and miniature worlds above and below that surface. Continue reading

Postcards from NEA Secretary Jane Chu: Sketches of Florida

In addition to being an accomplished musician, National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu is a skilled visual artist as well. As she travels the country on behalf of the NEA, Chairman Chu makes sketches of various locations, and graciously shares them with each State Arts Agency. She created some lovely artwork while in Florida and we are thrilled that she has allowed us to share them with you!

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Betsy Restaurant – Florida

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Patriot Plaza at the Sarasota National Cemetery

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New World Symphony in Miami Beach

Chairman Chu’s sketches should not be used for fundraising purposes or as an endorsement.

Video Postcard from: The Florida Sculptors Guild and “From Start to Finish”

by Tim Storhoff

Recently, Florida artist Brian R. Owens created this video of a sculpture exhibition at the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens and shared it with the Culture Builds Florida blog. The show entitled “From Start to Finish” took place last year and featured the work of the Florida Sculptors Guild, which aims to be the “go to” place for all things sculptural in the state.

The sculptures presented in “From Start to Finish” can be seen in the video below, which Owens and edited. He describes the exhibition as follows:

The title of the show embodies its theme. Each sculpture was accompanied by a printed description with photos of the process used to create it. The methods and materials of sculpture are diverse. Materials included bones, paper, fired clay, plastilina, bronze, plaster, ceramics, steel, stone, wood, fabric and wood branches. Methods varied from direct modeling (which is how I made my piece) to more complicated processes such as “lost wax” bronze casting. Pieces varied greatly in size. The intent of the sculptors varied as well. Marla E’s playful work included a sign inviting people to touch and rearrange it. Linda Brant’s work flows from deeply held beliefs about our relationship to other forms of life. The exhibit space was small but this shortened the distance between the viewer and the work, making the experience more intimate, less formal. The work was good and the presentation unusual. This may be why curator Rachel Frisby reported that the show was more than well received. It was a hit!

I asked Owens to discuss the current status of sculpture as an art form in Florida and what role the Guild plays in promoting it.

When you say “sculpture in Florida” my mind hears it as “opportunities to do sculpture commissions in Florida in the immediate future and be paid properly.” Such opportunities appear to be rare. I can only see things from my perspective and I don’t have a birds-eye view of the State, but it is possible to manage without one. The Guild is diverse so I’m speaking for myself when I say I consider Florida as my backyard and this time zone as my neighborhood. Florida may be in its infancy as a market but I’m working on my first transatlantic commission, albeit a small one. Systems that worked for me before, such as gallery representation, are now just another tool in my tool box.

The ability to share sculpture through film is an additional tool that Owens plans to use moving forward. “Given the unusual space and the lush surroundings, the decision to make a movie was an easy one,” he said. “Getting it done was a bit harder than I thought. I had to borrow a camera, build some gear, learn how to use apps and find music to license.” The video documenting this exhibition was designed for YouTube and small screens, but Owens says the next movie will be in high definition.

The Florida Sculptors Guild was established in 2008 and was the brainchild of Amy Wieck and Linda Moore. Wieck explained, “Our mission is to enrich, include and educate our community about the sculptural arts. We provide emerging and established sculptors the space, education, exposure, and connections they need for artistic, creative and professional advancement.” The Florida Sculptors Guild is a valuable resource for anyone wishing to purchase a sculpture by connecting them with its professional members.

You can find the Florida Sculptors Guild on Facebook or at floridasculptorsguild.com. You can learn more about Brian Owens and his artwork at brianowensart.com.

Postcard From: The Florida Poetry Out Loud 2014 State Finals

by Tim Storhoff

Forty-two students from across Florida competed in Tallahassee on Saturday, March 1 for the Florida Poetry Out Loud State Finals. This year, the Poetry Out Loud program in 28 of Florida’s counties assisted more than 15,000 secondary-level students in learning about poetry in their classrooms. The Florida Division of Cultural Affairs oversaw outreach to schools and communities around the state spanned many of Florida’s school districts and regions.

The Poetry Out Loud competition begins at the classroom level. Winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to the state competition in Tallahassee. Each state winner ultimately competes in the National Finals in Washington, D.C. Teachers at more than fifty Florida high schools completed this program through to the end, and forty-two schools were represented in the State Finals competition.

The photos below depict the exciting and poetry-filled day these students had.

Forty-two students from across the state who won the individual competitions at their own schools came to Tallahassee and competed on March 1.

Forty-two students from across the state who won the individual competitions at their own schools came to Tallahassee and competed on March 1.

The competition was held at the R.A. Gray Building in downtown Tallahassee.

The competition was held at the R.A. Gray Building in downtown Tallahassee.

As this schedule of events shows, students had a full day.

As this schedule of events shows, students had a full day.

All students recited a poem in the first and second round. Cassidy Camp of Coral Shores High School in Monroe County presented "Baudelaire" By Delmore Schwartz in the first round.

All students recited a poem in the first and second round. Cassidy Camp of Coral Shores High School in Monroe County presented “Baudelaire” By Delmore Schwartz in the first round.

Judges included faculty from Florida State University, Florida A&M University and Tallahassee Community College. Judges evaluated the students in six different areas: Physical Presence, Voice and Articulation, Dramatic Appropriateness, Level of Difficulty, Evidence of Understanding, and Overall Performance.

Judges included faculty from Florida State University, Florida A&M University and Tallahassee Community College. They evaluated the students in six different areas: Physical Presence, Voice and Articulation, Dramatic Appropriateness, Level of Difficulty, Evidence of Understanding, and Overall Performance.

The event was hosted by Sandy Shaughnessy, Director of the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs.

The event was hosted by Sandy Shaughnessy, Director of the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs.

Students read poems on multiple themes and from various countries and parts of history. In the first round Kamarr Le’Vere of Wekiva High School recited "April Love" by Ernest Dowson, who lived from 1867 to 1900.

Students read poems on multiple themes and from various countries and parts of history. In the first round, Kamarr Le’Vere of Wekiva High School recited “April Love” by Ernest Dowson, who lived from 1867 to 1900.

While students weren't on stage reciting their poems, they spent much of their time in the green room hanging out and rehearsing for the next round.

While students weren’t on stage reciting their poems, they spent much of their time in the green room hanging out and rehearsing for the next round.

After the first two rounds, ten students were selected to read a third poem in the final round.

After the first two rounds, judges selected ten students to read a third poem in the final round.

In the third round, Savannah McCord from the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind presented William Blake's "A Poison Tree" in ASL.

In the third round, Savannah McCord from the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind presented William Blake’s “A Poison Tree” in American Sign Language.

This year a new award was added to the state finals, and the Muse Award was given to David Luciemable of North Fort Myers High School. This award was given to the student whose passion and engagement with poetry stood out during their recitation. The decision was made by Division of Cultural Affairs Director Sandy Shaughnessy in consultation with her staff.

This year a new award was added to the state finals, and the Muse Award was given to David Luciemable of North Fort Myers High School. This award was given to the student whose passion and engagement with poetry stood out during his or her recitation.

Honorable mentions were awarded to Desirae Lee (left), a senior at Stanton Prepatory School in Duval County and Baxter Murrell (right), a sophomore at Winter Park High School in Orange County.

Honorable mentions were awarded to Desirae Lee (left), a senior at Stanton Prepatory School in Duval County and Baxter Murrell (right), a sophomore at Winter Park High School in Orange County.

Third place was awarded to Jillian Miley, a sophomore at Spruce Creek High School in Volusia County. Honorable mentions were awarded to Desirae Lee, a senior at Stanton Prepatory School in Duval County and Baxter Murrell, a sophomore at Winter Park High School in Orange County.

Third place was awarded to Jillian Miley, a sophomore at Spruce Creek High School in Volusia County.

Second place was awarded to Christell Roach, a senior at Miami Arts Charter School in Miami-Dade County. Roach will receive a $100 cash prize and Miami Arts Charter School receives $200 for their poetry collection.

Second place was awarded to Christell Roach, a senior at Miami Arts Charter School in Miami-Dade County. Roach will receive a $100 cash prize and Miami Arts Charter School receives $200 for their poetry collection.

First place was awarded to Emily Rodriguez, a senior at Academy of the Holy Names in Hillsborough County. Rodriguez will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to compete for a total of $50,000 in awards, scholarships and school stipends. The National Finals will be held April 28 – 30. In addition, Rodriguez will receive a $200 cash prize, and Academy of the Holy Names will receive $500 for the purchase of poetry books.

First place was awarded to Emily Rodriguez, a senior at Academy of the Holy Names in Hillsborough County. Rodriguez will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to compete for a total of $50,000 in awards, scholarships and school stipends. The National Finals will be held April 28 – 30. In addition, Rodriguez will receive a $200 cash prize, and Academy of the Holy Names will receive $500 for the purchase of poetry books.

Following the competition, students and their families returned to the green room for a reception with the staff.

Following the competition, students and their families returned to the green room for a reception with staff and attendees.

You can learn more about Poetry Out Loud by visiting the national recitation contest’s website at poetryoutloud.org. Teachers interested in participating in Poetry Out Loud next year should contact the Florida Poetry Out Loud coordinator, Alison Schaeffler-Murphy for more information. Thank you to all of the partners and sponsors who made this event possible, including the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry FoundationCitizens for Florida Arts, Habana BoardwalkQuality Inn & Suites, the Egg Express, the Apalachee Review, and Anhinga Press. We want to wish Emily the best of luck as she goes on to compete against all the other state champions in Washington, D.C. at the end of April!

Postcard From: The Creative Capital Professional Development Workshop

by Tim Storhoff

This past weekend, the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs along with Citizens for Florida Arts, Inc. partnered with the Creative Capital Foundation to offer a Professional Development Workshop to 24 artists from across the state of Florida that work in a variety of disciplines. This intensive two and a half days were a crash course in self-management, strategic planning, fundraising and promotion. The full weekend of lectures, peer critiques, one-on-one consultations, and interactive exercises took place in the beautiful University Gallery and nearby classrooms at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

The workshop leaders included Colleen Keegan, Aaron LandsmanJackie Battenfield (if you’re near Sarasota, check out Jackie’s exhibition at the Allyn Gallup Contemporary Art gallery on display through February 9), César Cornejo, and Beverly McIver. For more information, you should check out Jackie’s book The Artist’s Guide: How to Make a Living Doing What You Love as well as the HBO Documentary Raising Renee about Beverly. By sharing their personal experiences and numerous resources, these artists and administrators provided the tools and methods that will help attendees manage the business side of their art with greater efficiency and results, allowing them to expand their skills and build more sustainable careers.

Here are some photos I took to chronicle this exciting and constructive weekend:

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"A bigger dream is much easier to achieve than a small dream, because it is inspiring."

“A bigger dream is much easier to achieve than a small dream, because it is inspiring.”

Beverly McIver explains how she worked towards achieving her own goals during the Strategic Planning session.

Beverly McIver explains how she worked towards achieving her own goals during the Strategic Planning session.

Participating artists enjoying lunch outside the gallery.

Participating artists enjoying lunch outside the gallery.

Workshop leaders and artists were able to share stories and discuss their work.

Workshop leaders and artists sharing stories and discussing their work.

Participating artist Julia Morrisroe describes an upcoming exhibition during Targeted Marketing.

Participating artist Julia Morrisroe describes an upcoming exhibition during Targeted Marketing.

Here are the results we came up with during our Targeted Marketing brainstorming session.

Here are the results we came up with during our Targeted Marketing brainstorming session.

"We want to dispel the myth we often tell ourselves that we are lucky to be artists, and because of that we don't deserve to be paid well. A passion for what you do should not preclude being paid."

“We want to dispel the myth we often tell ourselves that we are lucky to be artists, and because of that we don’t deserve to be paid well. A passion for what you do should not preclude being paid.”

Artists and workshop leaders enjoying the beautiful weather we had by meeting outside.

Artists and workshop leaders take advantage of the beautiful January weather by meeting outside.

Participating artist RIchard Seidel thanks the workshop leaders for the uplifting weekend.

Participating artist Richard Seidel thanks the workshop leaders for the uplifting weekend.

Creative Capital is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to providing integrated financial and advisory support to artists pursuing adventurous projects in five disciplines: Emerging Fields, Film/Video, Literature, Performing Arts and Visual Arts. Working in long-term partnership with artists, Creative Capital’s pioneering approach to support combines funding, counsel and career development services to enable a project’s success and foster a sustainable practice for its grantees. In its first decade, Creative Capital has committed more than $20 million in financial and advisory support to 325 projects representing 406 artists, and has reached an additional 3,700 artists around the country through its Professional Development Program.

The Division of Cultural Affairs partnered in presenting this program because we firmly believe that providing support and resources to Florida’s Individual Artists helps all of Florida’s cultural landscape. The Division has offered professional development opportunities like this workshop for Florida artists since 2006. Through these opportunities, over 250 artists have been trained in career-building skills such as marketing, time management, fundraising, and strategic planning. Additionally, the Division offers one grant program for individual artists, the Individual Artist Fellowship Program. The Fellowship Program provides monetary fellowships to Florida Artists to support their work and careers and to recognize the outstanding talent and artistic contributions of Florida artists. Individual artists enrich our communities and the world around us, and their works highlight our state’s diversity and create connections to our history. Spending time with these artists and learning about their endeavors during the workshop reminded all of us that Florida is a special place to live and work.

Thank you to everyone for a wonderful weekend! We are especially grateful to the workshop leaders from Creative Capital and the helpful staff and administrators at the University of Florida College of Fine Arts. We look forward to seeing where these artists take their careers from here!

Postcard from Sarasota: The Sarasota Film Festival

submitted by Dania Permesly, The Sarasota Film Festival Outreach Coordinator

For fourteen years, The Sarasota Film Festival (SFF) has been inspiring audiences with the finest in international, independent and non-fiction cinema. The SFF celebrates the art of filmmaking and the contribution of filmmakers by hosting an international film festival. The SFF also brings important economic, educational and cultural benefits to the Sarasota community.

photo submitted by The SFF

The SFF truly believes that the future of film is built upon creative interaction between filmmakers and audiences. Along with screenings, which are often paired with introductions and Q&A sessions with filmmakers, the festival offers an “In Conversation” series with the most famous faces, a “Tribute” event with celebrated guests, and a variety of events encouraging mingling with industry guests in a more casual setting.

photo submitted by The SFF

The SFF invites attendees to “See Things Differently.” Through films and educational programs, The SFF provides opportunities to engage with people from different cultures, religions, genders and ages. Visitors to the festival have the opportunity to attend screenings of over 180 films from more than 45 nations.

The SFF hosted more than 50,000 patrons last year, making it one of the top ten regional film festivals in the U.S.  About half of these attendees are from outside Sarasota County and the city enjoys a great influx of enthusiasm and excitement during the Festival. Each year, local and out-of-town audience members alike enjoy the film selections and the dialogue with more than 100 filmmakers, actors and producers.

Beyond the annual festival, The SFF offers a number outreach programs. Last April, The SFF introduced a new partnership as a part of its year-round outreach activities. See Jane at SFF, is an exciting partnership with The Geena Davis Institute on Gender In Media. By encouraging young boys and girls to consider the ways gender roles are portrayed in film and in their own creative projects, the partnership creates opportunities for new cinematic stories and storytellers. The project will culminate in a film program where young filmmakers address their own ideas and concerns regarding gender representation, with Ms. Davis attending The 2012 SFF to view the completed projects and work with the young filmmakers.

Geena Davis with students participating in See Jane at SFF. Photo submitted by The SFF.

With women still dramatically underrepresented in Hollywood, The SFF is committed to putting the accomplishments of women in the film industry in the spotlight. Having established partnerships with additional organizations including The Gulf Coast Chapter of U.N. Women, Women Make Movies, and creating the Side By Side Women In Film mentoring program, SFF Women promotes independent films by women filmmakers that seek to expand awareness of the lives of women around the world.

The SFF is committed to building innovative programs to foster that growth within the community, offering a variety of ways for patrons to experience the art of filmmaking.  The SFF 2012 takes place April 13-22. Learn more at www.sarasotafilmfestival.com.

photo submitted by The SFF

Postcard from St. Augustine: The St. Augustine Foot Soldiers Monument

by Brian R. Owens

St. Augustine Foot Soldiers Monument. Bronze sculpture by Brian R. Owens of Deltona.

In May a bronze monument was unveiled in St. Augustine in remembrance of ordinary citizens who engaged in various forms of peaceful protest to advance the cause of civil rights there in 1963 and 1964. This was a critical period for the civil rights movement that had been unfolding in many states for nearly a decade. The citizens who marched in St. Augustine, who survived a staggering level of violence, are credited with helping to sustain the political pressure needed to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Historian David Nolan describes it as “the most important event in St. Augustine’s modern history.” They called themselves Foot Soldiers.

Detail of monument.

I sculpted the monument for a non-profit, tax-exempt organization founded by Barbara H. Vickers, herself a Foot Soldier. Her mission: to create a monument to honor anonymous citizen-heroes connected to events that were largely unknown outside of her city; install it on the most prominent, historic property; get it done in a time when raising private funds is a challenge, when we are at risk of forgetting our own history and perhaps, of forgetting that there is nothing that can’t be done.

Vickers surrounded herself with people who knew the inner workings of city government and how to organize a project like this. The St. Augustine Foot Soldiers Remembrance Project, Inc. was driven by a small core of people but powered by over 200 individuals and 20 companies that contributed to the project. The monument is permanently installed in the Plaza de la Constitucion, a public park in downtown St. Augustine, near the corner of King and Charlotte Streets, 40 feet from a historic structure that was once used to sell slaves. The City contributed landscaping, concrete and engineering services and is now the owner of the monument. Not all public art projects can be handled this way, but this is a method worth noting.

Detail of monument.

Just after the installation, I stood around while the adhesive that connects the plaque to the stone base hardened. Two men walked up – one white and one black – seeing the monument for the first time. They were in a loud, enthusiastic discussion of how to rethink tourism, of new ways to include the monument in advertisements, of the monument as a symbol of our human ability to find creative solutions when the institutions that should protect us fail us. Neither of them was alive in 1964 and still, they connected with the art. They were so excited – so physically animated – that I had to step forward to keep one of them from accidentally knocking the plaque clean off.

Now that the epoch of the civil rights movement is over, we may see it from another angle – as those two men did. It was after all, a human achievement. I suspect that, for them, black and white is a kind of TV they don’t make anymore. Green is the color that preoccupied us at the moment and it’s not the green of the natural world. St. Augustine is a city that is dependent now, as it was in 1964, on tourism. I have no crystal ball to gauge how the monument affects their economy, but I do know how much lighter my own wallet is now that my lady-friend has rediscovered the place. Shortly after the monument was featured on the statewide public radio program “Florida Frontiers,” I received a happy message from the producer with feedback. Apparently, lots of people were planning a little weekend getaway to the “oldest city in north America.” And if the metrics of my website are to be believed, then many of the people who visit my site – and it’s a big number – get a gentle invitation to visit St. Augustine as well.